NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Among many laws that went into effect July 1, several were dedicated to the protection of human trafficking survivors in our state.

According to End Slavery Tennessee CEO Margie Quin, Tennessee is way ahead of the curve in the way it combats human trafficking, and last week it took several more important steps.

One newly enacted laws requires police to notify The Department of Children’s Services any time a minor is taken into custody on suspected prostitution charges. “We’ve got to understand the numbers that drive this crime,” Quin explained. “How much of this is occurring? How many state dollars do we need to throw at this problem?”

Another gives victims of trafficking protection under self-defense laws if they use force that results in serious bodily injury or death – even if they are engaged in illegal activity. “It could be prostitution, it could be drug crimes, it could be theft,” Quin said. “What we’re doing is saying trafficking can be a life-threatening occurrence.”

A third removes the statute of limitations on prosecuting the trafficking of minors.

“We know that children wait many, many years in order to report crimes against them, and so the removal of the statute of limitations is going to allow us to address those crimes at a point in which a person discloses,” Quin explained.

She added that the work is far from over as advocates push to stay one step ahead of the criminals, and raise awareness about what human trafficking actually looks like. “It spans all socioeconomic levels races cultures you name it,” she said. “We’re charging, we’re going to trial, we’re convicting people of trafficking in this state, and so now we can point to really hard numbers and say, ‘Hey, we don’t just think trafficking is occurring.’”

Governor Bill Lee also allocated $5 million to community-based trafficking victim services, which Quin said is the largest investment in victim services in the history of the state.

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